Monday, 7.19.04: Making Mock, Part 2
So who defines a "loser," anyway?
Yesterday I wrote about this weekend's movies and my idea that they had a common theme: just because you are passionate and ambitious doesn't mean you won't be a failure. I also thought they might be cautionary tales - don't even try because you are probably a loser and someone will make a mockumentary of your pathetic passions.
That was before we watched "Waiting for Guffman." A failed entertainer from NYC settles in a small town in Missouri to make a new life, but winds up writing, producing, and then acting in a Revue celebrating the town's sesquicentennial. True to the "hey, gang, let's put on a show tradition" the local amateurs overcome adversity and put on a thrilling performance. But it doesn't quite end there. Each has done a beautiful small-town job and yet the middle-agers among them each long for more. The thrill of their success sends them to seek their fortune in the big markets: Miami, Hollywood, NYC -- where of course they are barely plankton in the show biz food chain. They are working and yet somehow have gone from being big winners to, well, losers.
It's the classic dilemma: do you want to be a big fish in a small town or a minnow in the ocean? It must play out in community theaters and church halls all over -- skilled amateurs and semi-pros giving it everything they've got and making their audiences weep with joy. Most are happy having a good time, but a few decide they are meant for bigger things.
Don't think I'm not taking this personally. I have my ambitions. I have my passions. But I like being small-time. I went to a small women's college. Most of my career was spent in a small corporate pond. It was when the pond expanded into a lake that I got uncomfortable and jumped back into a new little pond. I don't need to be among the elites -- I need to love my work. As the elites of the Rochester filmmaking community look down upon our tiny generalist shop, I need to remind myself now and then that this is where I belong.
The picture below has nothing to do with the topic. I was just playing in Photoshop.
This is Spinal Tap Tagline: Does for rock and roll what "The Sound of Music" did for hills (1984)
American Movie Documentary based in Milwaukee (1999)
Waiting for Guffman Tagline: There's A Good Reason Some Talent Remains Undiscovered. A mockumentary about small town theater. (1996) The tagline doesn't really fit my interpretation of this film.